There’s an urgent manhunt underway after a California sheriff’s deputy was shot by a sniper on Wednesday.
It happened at about 2:50 p.m. in the parking lot of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Lancaster station.
Police say Sheriff’s Deputy Angel Reinosa, 21, suffered a “graze wound” to the shoulder.
They say he was shot by a sniper while walking to his car in the station’s lot.
His call came in over emergency radios.
“I have taken shots from the north of the Lancaster helipad,” the deputy is heard saying over the radio. “I think I’m hit in the right shoulder.”
He was hit with a high-velocity rifle round and said two shots had been fired at him from a nearby four-story apartment building. He was able to scramble back to the station and get medical help.
Reinosa was rushed to the hospital, where he’s expected to recover. No surgery was needed. Police say Reinosa’s bulletproof vest saved his life.
“He is doing great, thankfully,” Sheriff’s Capt. Todd Weber said. “The wound was minor and he’s been treated and he’s doing well, in high spirits.”
According to Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, the deputy’s bulletproof vest saved his life but the bullet deflected into his shoulder.
“He was walking out of the sheriff’s station, and a sniper took a shot at him,” Parris said. “It is incomprehensible in our city.”
Right now, it appears the shooting was a random act and not one directed at that specific deputy.
“It was not targeted on this specific deputy. It was any deputy would do.”
Deputies blocked off the area where they believed the shot came from, saying it was a “considerable distance”. They did not say how many shots were fired. They believed they had the shooter contained, but he was able to escape.
While searching the area, the SWAT team was called in and armored vehicles were brought in to provide cover for deputies using binoculars to scan the building for the sniper.
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They spent several hours clearing nearby buildings, including a library and an apartment complex.
At a news conference Wednesday night, Weber said Reinosa has been with the Sheriff’s Department for a year and joined the Lancaster station in May for patrol training.
During that news conference, Parris said the shooter fired from a “building filled with people who are being treated for mental illness.”
It now appears the shooter fired from a building that provides permanent supporting housing for a variety of people, including low- to moderate-income people and people who have disabilities, have been diagnosed with mental illnesses or were recently homeless.
A source told local media outlets that Mental Health America of Los Angeles’ Antelope Valley enrichment services building shares a parking lot with the apartment building, but that source said it’s not where the shooter fired from.
Residents of the building shared with media that there are some mental-health patients who live in the complex. But they also clarified the building is not specifically designated for that purpose.
The entire thing is low-income government subsidized housing.
The department evacuated hundreds of residents as deputies went floor-to-floor to search for the shooter.
Late on Wednesday evening, police arrested two people. But they later say the individuals had just been uncooperative with the search and evacuation orders, and were not considered suspects.
Residents say the shooting wasn’t a huge surprise.
“They let people live in our apartment complex who have mental illness,” said Terrisa McGhee, who lives in the apartment complex. “It’s kind of scary because there’s no security onsite 24 hours. Management is never here when things happen. The cops are in there constantly. So it’s not a surprise.”
Police completed the search before 11 p.m. with no suspect in custody, and everyone allowed back into their homes.
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